British Columbia Teachers’ Full Strike Imminent, Union Blasts Latest Govt Offer
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | June 17, 2014 3:34 PM EST
The full strike threat of British Columbia's unionized teachers will now most likely push through after both the group and the B.C. government failed to settle wage offer negotiations over the weekend.
REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate
A teacher sits with a placard as she takes part in a march to demand the payment of their salaries from the government in San Jose May 23, 2014. Teachers of public schools and colleges are on an indefinite strike by arrears of their wages for four months, according to local media. The placard reads "Pay what is owed to me, or I will continue to strike". REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate (COSTA RICA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST EDUCATION BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
"The strike is imminent," the Canadian Press quoted Jim Iker, president of B.C. Teachers' Federdation, as saying on Monday morning in a speech watched online by thousands of teachers gathered away from schools at "study sessions" to discuss developments.
"Government had that opportunity to get a deal this weekend and they squandered it, which is so disappointing."
Unionized teachers from the province located on the west coast of Canada had started erecting picket lines for a Tuesday labour stoppage showdown.
Peter Cameron, chief government negotiator, admitted the two sides failed to reach an agreement. "The strike is on at this point. I mean, they say it's a 'study session' today but there's no teachers in the classroom. It's on."
The teachers' union has called for a province-wide study session that's why B.C. students aren't in class on Monday.
The BCTF served the required strike notice of 72 hours on Thursday after members voted 86 per cent in favour of escalating rotating strike action last week.
Parents are bracing for the worst.
"Parents are exhausted, stressed," Nicole Makohoniuk, a single parent in Vernon and president-elect of the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC), told the Daily Courier.
"I'm a childcare provider in the Okanagan and the centres I know are scrambling because they've planned their summer program to start in July. All of a sudden it's two weeks earlier."
Over the weekend, BCTF brought forward a new proposal, slashing salary demands to eight per cent over five years, but with a $5,000 signing bonus. The government however gave a reduced wage offer of seven per cent from 7.25 per cent. It maintained its original $1,200 signing offer.
"More panic has set in because (the strike) potentially is going to be for the rest of the school year," Lianna Michaylow, director of the Okanagan Boys and Girls clubs, told Daily Courier.
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